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278             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
"A kind of ancestor-worship also developed, under which the bodies of the dead were embalmed, merely as a formal rite to show succeeding generations what their deceased ancestors looked like. It was really a hollow imitation of the mummification which was practised in earlier epochs of Egypt to preserve holy relics or good kings and priests. For in the dark period which later descended on Egypt, when it was bereft of true spiritual light and when the hell-forces of the nether world were evoked by those with much knowledge but little compassion, the instructed men of the priestly and ruling classes caused their own bodies to be embalmed* This was done, sometimes for the purposes of black magic, sometimes out of fear of the spirit's destruction in the purgatory that awaited it after death, and sometimes out of ignorant conformity to custom. In almost every case, before such a man passed out at death, he arranged for and had his tomb prepared whilst he was alive. After the preparation of the physical tomb he invoked (or had invoked for him by a priest of sufficient knowledge) a spirit-entity, an artificial elemental creation, imperceptible to bodily senses, sometimes good but more often bad, to protect and watch his mummy and act as a guardian spirit over his tomb.
"Further to protect these embalmed bodies, the tombs were first hidden with cunning care and then it was generally taught to the people that any profaner of these tombs would be visited by the spirit-powers with the most dreadful punishment. This teaching was believed, and those tombs were long left in peace. But with the increasing decay of the priesthood and rulers, even the people began to lose their superstitious faith, and tomb-robberies commenced, for the sake of plundering the jewels which were buried with almost every mummy of an important personage.
It was true that wherever the embalmed body was that of a person with some knowledge of magic, or under the protection and guidance of someone with such knowledge, spirit-powers had been invoked to protect those tombs and punish intruders. Those powers were often exceedingly evil, menacing and destructive. They existed within the dosed tombs, and could continue to exist, for thousands of years. Hence your archaeologists who, in all ignorance, break open such spirit-shielded graves, do so at their own peril.
"Yet if it were merely a matter which affected the safety of